Tuesday, September 4, 2007

A Soul?

Superficial analysis would find that a stuffed animal is composed of a couple of plastic eyes, maybe some other ornamentation and a large wad of polyester fiber all contained by a few pieces of cloth sewn together. This is what it becomes after your dog mangles it, it is left on a highway shoulder for a month or it winds up in a land fill. Is that really all it is?

Added value begins in many ways. The first step is usually when the toy is given a name. Now the stuffed animal counts, at least a little, to its owner. It helps if they are fuzzy and cute. Feel has a lot to do with how you feel about them. If they are soft and fit into your hand, they are a good candidate for endearment. Attachment seems directly proportional with age. If the toy has traveled many miles and shared days, months or years with you, it gains more sentiment. As the fuzzy nap begins to wear, imperfections in color, a stain or two and random (possibly memorable) dirt all add to the level of satisfaction it can bring you.

It doesn't need to be a stuffed animal. It can be a doll, a blanket, a shirt, a pillow or even a plant. Blankets can be loved to death. I have seen blankets become frayed, fall into pieces, shredded, tied into knots to retain some resemblance of a whole and, finally, become a sacred thread or two. No matter how worn it becomes, it constantly increases in value in huggabilty!

The amount of soothing satisfaction and comfort provided by a cherished object is immeasurable. When personal relationships collapse, or during periods of great loss, the things you love to clutch can certainly become your best friend. Their services are never-ending and nothing is asked for in return. It's a one-way street. You can take all you want without any obligation to return the favor. What a great arrangement!

Just imagine what you would hear if the object you clutch could talk! You would remember how you first met your "friend," when you decided it was special and all the fun and horrible events you both lived through. The trip to the hospital when you got your first stitches after a fall. The night your cat did not come home. The horrible predicament in sixth grade when you thought everyone was looking at you. You know you can never part with it no matter how old you grow. Certainly, it is a guilty comfort and pleasure.

But do these things really have a soul? Is there more to their part in your life than what you might expect from a couple of yards of cloth? I think it is all in the eyes of the owner. Reaching back centuries or more, endeared fetishes held much greater powers than simple soothing. VooDoo Ouanga dolls held the most tremendous powers known. Look into their eyes. Are they magical? Are they spiritual? Is there anything going on inside them?

The relationship between "friend" and owner is passionate and personal. In a random survey, when asked what makes these things special, the number one answer was 'I don't know.' It's personal and it's remarkable. It's a reminder of past events, good and bad. It's comfort. It's security and love. Does it have a soul and spirit all its own? Only you can decide. Just don't take it away from me!


Lauren's Mom (Jan) said...

I'm still not convinced there isn't a little stuffed animal action going on when I shut my eyes at night!

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